Fourth of July 2022 travel: Flight delays, cancellations mount

Thousands of airline travelers hit the proverbial wall Saturday as staffing issues among the major airlines delayed more than 4,700 U.S. flights and canceled another 636 within, into or out of the United States as the busy Fourth of July weekend hit its halfway point.

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According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, U.S. cancellations accounted for roughly one-quarter of the 2,341 global flights canceled by 7:45 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Meanwhile, another 127 U.S. flights are canceled already for Sunday, and 36 Monday flights have been nixed. nNearly 7,900 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were delayed Friday, and another 587 were canceled that day, according to the website.

Although the lion’s share, or 88%, of the 47.9 million Americans who planned to travel at least 50 miles from home at some point during the five-day holiday weekend said that they expected to do so by vehicle, nearly 3.6 million Americans were expected to fly between Thursday and Monday, according to AAA.

That figure represents a decrease of more than 9% compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019, but an increase of 1.5% compared with 2021.

By 7 p.m. Saturday, American Airlines was the hardest-hit U.S. carrier, with 755 flight delays, or roughly 24% of its total trips, and 99 cancelations, accounting for roughly 3% of its flights.

Meanwhile, the Allied Pilots Association, the carrier’s union, confirmed Saturday that a scheduling “software glitch” the previous night “allowed pilots to drop assignments, potentially understaffing more than 12,000 flights” through the end of July, The Washington Post reported.

American Airlines confirmed in a statement to The Hill that most flights affected by the glitch were reinstated by early Saturday evening.

“We already have restored the vast majority of the affected trips and do not anticipate any operational impact because of this issue,” American said in the prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines delayed about 15% of its total trips, or 434 flights, while canceling 72. United Airlines posted similar figures, with 359 flights delayed and 43 canceled. Southwest Airlines delayed 847 flights, or roughly 24%, but canceled 23, according to FlightAware.